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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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the influence of culture or genetics on parent appreciation of the intangible returns from children can be pursued only when the tangible pecuniary returns have also been isolated and taken into account properly. None of the behavioral sciences has yet faced this challenge and accomplished the task of sorting out the pecuniary and nonpecuniary determinants of reproductive behavior (8).
Pecuniary Returns from Children
The rest of this paper deals largely with the combined effects of the pecuniary benefits and costs of children on parent demand for offspring. Limiting attention to these two countervailing determinants of parental reproductive behavior is not a reflection of their intrinsically greater importance compared with nonpecuniary factors. To reiterate, this emphasis is chosen because the factors influencing nonpecuniary returns are difficult to observe, conceptualize, and evaluate. Perhaps they are also quite difficult for instruments of public policy to modify. In contrast, the pecuniary returns from children are concrete; they may be interpreted within an established conceptual framework, and they are frequently thought to be directly influenced by the development process and various policies.
The time and resources used in rearing a child may be considered an investment cost applied toward the future productive capacity of a child. Depending on the associated levels of costs and benefits, a child may contribute to his parents a high or low rate of return. However, the apparently simple task of treating a child as though he were a producer good is actually complex. A child presumably consumes more than he can produce for about the first decade of life; at some time thereafter he is increasingly able to produce more than he needs. But what constitutes necessary consumption? After he grows up, how is one to treat a man's support for his wife and children? Should these commitments be viewed as consumption, or as a "surplus" to be credited against his own childhood "deficit"? In comparison with this ambiguous notion of individual consumption within a family, the concept of a man's productive capacity appears more solid, whereas empirical problems of measurement are quite difficult when it comes to assessing the productive capacity of a housewife or child who is not engaged for pay in the full-time labor force.
The family affords the traditional means for greater individual specialization among market, nonmarket, reproductive, and child-rearing activities. Generational cycles in both physical savings and human capital formation in children and adults further constrain and shape consumption opportunities of persons within, or potentially within, a family unit. These life-cycle patterns are affected by individual choice which influences the measured level of personal income in a community. One must be cautious, however, not toalth of the parents and to the physical and mental development of children. If this association is a causal relationship and parents perceive the relationship, then one might argue the nonpecuniary returns to additional children had become strongly negative.